JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ordinarily Made In Space manufactures three-dimensional printers for use in space.
But like so many other companies, the Jacksonville-based manufacturer is shifting its state-of-the-art operation in response to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The company announced Wednesday it is producing 3D-printed face shields to shore up supplies of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
“In times of crisis it is important for everyone to come together and we have an obligation to support those on the front lines,” said Michael Snyder, chief engineer for Made In Space. “Our team is using every available 3D printing resource we have to produce face shields to support our local healthcare personnel.”
The pivot couldn’t have come at a better time.
Hospitals nationwide are wrestling with a shortage of PPE including face shields, masks and gowns that protect healthcare workers from potential exposure to the virus. The shortage has pitted states against each other in bidding wars for shipments of protective gear.
According to Made In Space, its face shields are designed with a 3D-printed frame featuring an adjustable headband that allows its wearer to easily snap a clear plastic shield into place. Over 200 masks have been produced so far, some of which were delivered to Jacksonville hospitals.
Besides face shields, the company’s engineers worked with Jacksonville doctors to develop and test what’s called a rapid response ventilator adapter. The device is intended to let multiple patients safely share the same ventilator.
Like masks and gowns, ventilators have been in short supply. As Politico reports, the lack of these critical life-saving devices has forced physicians to make tough choices when there aren’t enough of them to go around.
In a Thursday blog post, Made In Space said the adapters are inexpensive to produce and do not require any special assembly. The company is providing step-by-step instructions to hospitals, so they can use the adapters as needed.